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44th Bayou Classic lives up to its theme

4th December 2017   ·   0 Comments

With star-studded events, spirited competition and something for everyone. The 44th Annual Bayou Classic lived up to its billing.

Bayou Classic 2017 was all about unity. During the weekend, the theme “We Are One” was echoed from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the French Market and throughout the various venues which hosted Bayou Classic events across the city. The Grambling State University Tigers took the victory for their third straight Bayou Classic, but the exciting back-and-forth game, combined with family fun events, and HBCU pride made everyone a winner.

The annual event that dates back to 1974 brings fans from the two Louisiana public HBCUs to New Orleans for an HBCU experience like no other. Students, fans and alumni unite to experience the historic rivalry and take part in the unique tradition and pageantry.

The attendance at the 2017 Greek Show presented by McDonald’s and Battle of the Bands presented by the U.S. Marine Corps was 28,730. The attendance at the game was 66,550. This year, the electrifying halftime show was presented by P&G’s Crest 3D White Toothpaste.

For the second year in a row, the game served as a playoff for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship game. The Grambling State University Tigers will go on to face Alcorn State on December 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The SWAC champion will then play in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia on December 16.

Grambling’s G-men hold the distinction of going undefeated in SWAC play over the past two football seasons.

“It was a great year and now we have begun the planning for our 45th Bayou Classic Anniversary for 2018,” Dottie Belletto, president and CEO of New Orleans Convention Company, Inc. (NOCCI), said last week.

The annual event provided a whirlwind of events that left those in attendance both ecstatic about coming to New Orleans to join in the festivities and adamant about making early plans to attend next year’s festivities.

With the Grambling Tigers winning the Bayou Classic with a score of 30-21 against the Southern Jaguars, the Tigers hold a 23-21 edge in the series.

With the win, the Grambling State University Tigers move onto the SWAC Championship against Alcorn State to be held in Houston on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

Grambling’s Devante Kincade and Southern’s Austin Howard were named MVPs of the 44th Annual Bayou Classic.

Louisiana Seafood presented a 44-foot po-boy to commemorate the Bayou Classic’s 44th Anniversary at the Bayou Classic Press Conference.

In 2017, fan voting via the Bayou Classic App played a larger role in choosing the winner of their favorite step stem at the Greek Show and MVP of the game. There were 1,121 people that voted for the winner of the Greek Show and 493 people voted for the MVP of the game.

Over the Bayou Classic Weekend, the Bayou Classic App peaked in downloads at number 34 out of the top 200 Sports Apps. The app had 8,279 downloads and was more popular with fans this year vs. the debut year in 2016.

First-place winners of the Bayou Classic Greek Show presented by McDonald’s — the Beta Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Psi Beta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. — were presented with $3,000 checks for their winning performances.

This year, the Bayou Classic Parade changed the date from Thanksgiving Day to pre-game on Saturday. More than 65,000 people attended the Bayou Classic Parade, which featured 11 high school marching bands, three of which were from out of state.

Bayou Classic Fan Fest presented by Cox with entertainment by iHeart Radio reached capacity for the first time and the entrance gates to Champions Square were closed. Over 12,500 people attended Fan Fest on a flow.

iHeart Radio provided artists including K Camp, Young Greatness and Cupid along with headliner T.I., presented by Coors Light at the Bayou Classic Fan Fest presented by Cox.

Six teams of academic superstars comprised of 21 students were selected to present their final presentations at the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge presented by Nexus LA. The winner of the $10,000 Grand Prize was Team OurGlass from Southern University who created a portable 3D-printed device that brews tea, so that users can brew and drink tea “on the go.” The team is working with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Clinic at Southern University’s Law Center to patent and trademark their intellectual property, and set up legal structures to enable them to start selling their product.

The top three finalists of the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge received $10,000 in free legal services from Stone Pigman Law Firm to advise them on their next steps.

Approximately 150 people attended the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Sheryl Underwood, actress, comedienne, and personality as seen on “The Talk,” judged the Greek Show along with Elvin Ross, founder of Elvin Ross Studios, and Music Director of the beloved Tyler Perry films. Singer, songwriter, model and actress, Solange Knowles was in attendance for the show. Omar J. Dorsey, actor in “Queen Sugar,” was in attendance for the game.

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Bryan Terrell Clark who plays George Washington in the Broadway play “Hamilton,” and Anthony Pope, senior vice president and region manager for Cox’s Southeast Region conducted the coin toss before the big game.

The Bayou Classic partnered with the inDEFINED Initiative, Bryan Terrell Clark’s fashion line which supports inner-city arts education. inDEFINED sold a special edition Bayou Classic tee at Fan Fest which benefited arts education programs in New Orleans.

Grambling’s Devante Kincade and Southern’s Lenard Tillery were inducted into Bayou Classic’s MVP Club during the Coaches Luncheon in honor of being named MVPs of the Bayou Classic in 2016.

About Bayou Classic:

The legendary game between Grambling State University and Southern University celebrated its 44th year this November and with viewership over 5.5 million in 2016 on the NBC Sports Network, the Bayou Classic has proven to be a steadfast beacon of legacy and tradition that extends beyond the HBCU community. Fans from across the nation journey to New Orleans during Thanksgiving weekend to witness the electrifying football game between Grambling State and Southern, while eagerly awaiting the highly anticipated halftime show featuring two of the greatest marching bands in the nation. For more information, visit

This article originally published in the December 4, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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